I can’t imagine my life without dozens and dozens of jars of this gorgeous relish on my shelf. I make it every summer after arranging with a local produce farm to grow a crop of purple basil (genus Dark Opal) for me, but you can grow this peppery, beautiful basil just as easily at home in pots or the perennial border. Before we were vegetarians we would baste pork roast with it, scrumptious! I serve it up to guests simply as a topper for cream cheese on plain crackers. It has an indescribable color (garnet?) and a sweet/tart taste with a subtle overtone of orange and clove. You will never find this delicacy on a supermarket shelf, and it’s sooooo worth the effort. Double and triple the recipe as you see fit and process in half-pint jelly jars according to proper canning techniques. YUM!
1 1/2 cups (packed) washed and drained purple basil leaves, including tender stems and flower buds
Zest(outer peel only, no white pith) of a bright-skinned medium orange, 1″ strips
6 whole cloves
1 2/3 cups strained fresh orange juice
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
4 cups sugar
3 oz. liquid pectin
Chop the basil into a large saucepan, Twist each orange zest over the basil to catch the oil that will fly out in droplets, then drop zest into pan. Add the cloves, orange juice and red wine vinegar. Set over medium heat until boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand 1 hour. Pour the mixture over a fine sieve or cheesecloth over a bowl, and press to extract as much flavor as possible. You should have 1 1/2 cups of the liquid after discarding the solids.
Add the sugar to the liquid and heat to boiling over medium heat. When a hard boil is achieved (won’t stir down), add the pectin. After achieving a hard boil again, boil for exactly 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim any foam and pour into hot, sterilized jars with 1 inch of headspace. Seal with paraffin or water bath with lids. Cool, label and store the jars.